Tuesday’s Term of The Week | PSAP

on February 24, 2015 at 1:30PM

Jay Jacuk, supervisor of dispatch operation at the Onondaga County Department of Emergency Communications, handles a call inside the agency's communications control center.

Jay Jacuk, supervisor of dispatch operation at the Onondaga County Department of Emergency Communications, handles a call inside the agency’s communications control center.

Nothing is more important in an emergency than for the first responders to be able to get to the scene as quickly as possible. As most people know, the first step in that process is usually a call to an emergency call center (911 in the United States) and the operators there are typically responsible for sending out the first responders to the appropriate location. What many people are not aware of is that there is a system called the Public Safety Answering Point, or PSAP, that determines which call center a 911 call is routed to. Each of these call centers has their own unique phone number. The ideal call center is determined by the specific jurisdiction in which an address falls, and will then connect the caller with the closest possible first responders.

The responsibility of the PSAP is determined by its location. In the United States, it is usually handled by the county or large city. In some circumstances, however, municipalities choose to have their own system. This can be complicated if an emergency service is run by an outside agency, such as a county fire department assigned to a city with its own PSAP, and so sometimes these calls have to be rerouted to a different call center.

When the call is received in the call center, not only is the operator responsible for dispatching first responders, but also sometimes for determining a person’s location through their landline number, or sometimes their mobile phone location. This is an important tool when the caller is not able to speak their location, and could literally make the difference between life and death. GIS data is critically important in the PSAP, assisting them in knowing where a caller is located, who is available to respond, how best to navigate to that location, and what obstructions they might face on the way. Just one more reason why up to date location accuracy is vital when emergency calls are routed.

Tuesday’s Term of the Week | Thematic Mapping

on February 17, 2015 at 10:30AM

Median Household Income MapSmart businesses know who their customers are and where to find them. They know where and when trends are happening and when the atmosphere of a neighborhood is changing. Thematic Mapping is an extremely useful tool in acquiring this knowledge, because it allows a person to see physical, social, political, cultural, economic, sociological, and agricultural aspects of a city, state, region, or continent.

As you can imagine, this kind of map has many other different uses as well, such as studies of biology and political science. A politician planning an election campaign would do well to study trends in his or her region to determine a campaign strategy, for instance. Or a police department might focus their officers into areas with higher levels of crime. Essentially, there are an endless number of uses for these kinds of maps and the amount of information they can provide. This is invaluable for businesses in particular, whether they are planning on expanding, or embarking on a targeted marketing campaign. More knowledge means more profit!